Jersey is one of the Channel Island group that is a dependent yet separate state to the UK. It is also a beautiful place with great beaches and plenty of money. Nearer, geographically, to France than England it has a mixed Anglo-French heritage. Years ago, I am talking 40 years, you had to apply to look for a job there. They refused me though I am not entirely sure why, that has faded into memory. Talking of memory, you would need a long one to recall the unsolved murder of Tuula Hoeoek.
A year after I was born this Finnish 20 year old was found beaten to death in the entrance to a field on a lane called Rue Laurens. This in modern day Jersey is about a six minute drive. The evening before, 30th December 1966, Ms Hoeoek had been travelling to the beach front area of Pontac. She lived on Beach Road near Georgetown and had only just over 3.5km ( 2.2 miles) to cover to get there. It was between 7.30 and 8 pm and the weather was apparently bad with heavy rain. She was sighted at a bus stop in Georgetown and cars were noted stopping nearby. It is believed people may have been offering Ms Hoeoek a ride. That was not at all uncommon in smaller communities back then.
From what the cops could find out later it seems she did catch a ride. There was no-one who could be found to say she got on a bus at any rate. Doubtless this lady thought the driver would drop her off at her friend’s place in Pontac. Of course that didn’t happen.
I quote directly from the Jersey State Police website where an account of the murder can be found. The office representative writes:
‘I firmly believe that there is someone still living in Jersey today who holds vital information as to what happened to Tuula that night and who has not yet come forward to the police and shared this information. Perhaps someone close or known to them returned home that night or the next day acting strangely or out of character, perhaps even with injuries, or blood or mud on their clothing or vehicle.’
A Local Killing?
As I went through some online reports I realised that many were dated back to 2013. They were based around a reinvestigation of the killing. When I first saw this case I assumed that the murder would have a sexual motive. However, a couple of accounts in 2016 suggested there was more to this.
Ms Hoeoek had been working in The Southampton Hotel ( still there) but had quit and moved home suddenly. She only seems to have gone a mile ( 1.2km) or so away yet she asked her former landlord not to pass on her new address. This is said to have been because of a phone call that had frightened her. More curious is the mention of there being an ‘informal’ prostitution racket operating with some connection to the hotel.
The year before Ms Hoeoek had also worked on the island, but that had been in Pontac. She went back to Finland for a bit and began working in The Southampton in September 66.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee Turner said ( in 2016) that there was no belief that she had any direct involvement in this sex racket, but she may have been at odds with them over something. Apparently she had only moved into her new home a few days before she was killed.
This now makes the words of the Jersey Police website a bit clearer. In 2013 they said that though many people who knew Ms Hoeoek had been contacted in the 1960s there were some ‘remaining’ questions they wanted to ask. They want anyone who knew her back then to give them a call.
On that rainy night plenty of cars may well have been on the roads returning from church or visits to family. You can fly to the island or take a ferry. In December, however, most resorts would have reduced tourist traffic and taking your car would have been a pain. It is likely the offender was a local if a car was used.
So was this mystery threat watching Ms Hoeoek? Had they had been tipped off she was travelling to Pontac that night? Otherwise you have the less likely chance a person wishing to do her harm sees her unexpectedly. If it was the person she was scared of she would probably not have willingly got in the car. Was she set up and someone she would have trusted offered her a fatal ride?
Ms Hoeoek had taken work at the Plaza Restaurant in Bath Street. I go on the description of her workplace as being adjacent to West’s Cinema building. That is now long gone. Though a mile from The Southampton it and her new home were hardly the distance you might expect a terrified person to cover. Back then the entire population of the island was about 60,000. Most lived in the area around St Helier so if you wanted to hide out it wouldn’t work remaining so close to any issues you faced.
It is more the sort of distance a woman might put between them and an ex partner rather than how far she would go if threatened by petty vice gangsters. After all Tuula Hoeoek was Finnish, a hop on a ferry and a series of hitchhikes would have seen her home.
Other content on the Jersey Police website mentions an informal club called The Anglo. This place was not registered as such, but it is believed that Ms Hoeoek went there regularly. It is thought to have been a drinking spot for foreign nationals at the time. In another, blog type, mention cops say that Ms Hoeoek knew three ‘unidentified’ young women who shared a flat in Georgetown and so she had frequented that area before moving near there in late December 1966.
So who has heard tales of granddad coming home with blood on him or all in a lather about the time of New Year back then? Maybe you are in the UK and granddad lived on Jersey until 66/67 and he was always a bit weird about why he left.
Of course all the above about her motives for moving are unqualified ones. Just thoughts, she was very young and maybe underestimated the danger she was in. The cops have the file and doubtless they have many more answers than they are letting on.
Apparently Tuula Hoeoek had three sisters and other family who had to live with the pain of this loss. The youngest car driving offender back then would be something like 77 years old now. So the ferry may have sailed on this one. All the same I wish I knew who it was. If alive he has no right to any peaceful golden years.
There was another murder of a young woman that happened nine years to the day before Tuula Hoeoek was killed. Anne Noblett got off a bus in Hertfordshire for a rural walk home. She never made it. Unusual in this case was the likely use of refrigeration to delay discovery of her body. Click her name for the article. Incidentally a 19 year old Dutch au pair was murdered in early January 1958 near Colchester. Her name was Mary Kriek. If you click the name it will take you to a blog that is well established. There are a lot of references there and a well crafted article that includes details of similar none fatal attacks on women.
If you know anything about this case obviously tell the police. If you more of the culture and times on the island in the 1960s I would love to hear from you. Something about this poor girls murder, the vice and times that she may have had to deal with is intriguing. I would like to put more colour to the words above. On that note I have passed the vague thoughts I have on this to a podcaster. I will place a link here if they ever develop the story